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Seeker: Hi, James. Just an update. The self-knowledge remains solid; I am existentially satisfied and at peace, and nothing else really matters. It is like you said – suffering ends, though not necessarily pain. The certainty is ineffable, self-evident and beyond verbalising; there is no need to frame it in words. Difficult thoughts and feelings arise but they don’t stick. Generally, many desires don’t seem to have the same force they used to have and they don’t usually carry out a successful attack, so to speak. When, for instance, fear arises, I often see it as something curious, even fascinating, but not substantive. Many things now are kind of laugh-out-loud funny, myself included.
I have been reading portions of abridged versions of the Mahabharata, Bhagavata Purana and the Ramayana, as they are easier on the brain than other texts at the moment. There are a lot of complex dharma issues woven in and some wonderfully subversive stuff about super-rishis with feet of clay. The layers of meaning seem to be endless. There seems to be quite a bit of “qualified non-dualism” in them. “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down”? In that context, the way brahmaloka is presented seems to be similar to the nature of heaven in Catholic theology – the “beatific vision.” I came across a line that I really like in an old translation of a Sankara text: “To bow to the Supreme Lord means to offer one’s own Self to Him in the thought that the two are one and identical.” Knowledge = devotion.
James: I am so happy to see that your understanding is solid. Good for you! I love the Puranas. The way they take the piss out of the rishis is indeed lovely. Qualified non-dualism, indeed! Everyone here has feet of clay and it is fine because they are also the self, reality being what it is. And yes, knowledge and devotion are just different words describing the self, reality being what it is. Take care of yourself and keep in touch.
~ Much love, James